Part of the reason for this year’s successful production ramp-up is that Signal Peak Energy has avoided any longwall panel moves in 2013, according to company spokesman Michael Dawson. The mine is scheduled for a longwall panel move in the first quarter of 2014, however, he said.
Signal Peak’s thermal coal is being sold domestically and into the export markets, although Dawson declined to disclose the foreign destinations and other company officials declined comment in late July.
Export sales are being handled by Gunvor Group, an international trader based in Geneva, Switzerland, whose Pinesdale LLC subsidiary acquired a one-third interest in Signal Peak in 2011 from the mine’s two owners—FirstEnergy, an Ohio utility holding company headquartered in Akron, and Boich Companies, a privately held coal marketing and mining company headed by chairman and CEO Wayne M. Boich and based in Columbus, Ohio. Pinesdale paid a total of $400 million, $260 million to FirstEnergy and $140 million to Boich.
Dawson said company officials were pleased with the mine’s performance during the first half of this year and looked forward to continued success in the remaining months of 2013.
The mine finally is performing as anticipated a few years ago when it was purchased by FirstEnergy and Boich. But things have not always been so rosy. An extended longwall move in 2012 forced the company to declare a force majeure event for several weeks before it was lifted. In 2011, high carbon monoxide levels resulted in a shutdown of several weeks and another force majeure event.
The owners still are planning a surface operation near Signal Peak, although Dawson said there is no timetable for its startup.